• Nance Harding

What is the Art of Creative Suffering?

Updated: Aug 22

Every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul. People are never helped in their suffering by what they think for themselves, but only by revelation of a wisdom greater than their own. It is this which lifts them out of their distress. C.G. Jung

I employ art and/or religious symbols to creatively write and talk about encounters with illness and/or death where we find ourselves enduring threshold states Jungians call liminality. These liminal or betwixt and between thresholds where we initially feel lost and unsure of ourselves have much to teach us about the art of creative suffering.

This art or practice of creative suffering isn’t about masochism or martyrdom. It is about consciously suffering for the greater good, be it family, community, nation, or the greater wisdom mentioned above. It is a theological concept borrowed from Orthodox Christianity (Eastern) and blended with Jung’s concept he named the individuation process where encounters with suffering have the potential to reveal a greater wisdom than our own.

This is where everyday individuals like you and me become very important. With the individual's psychic advance to individuate or become enlightened, or woke to use the latest term, s(he) will suffer. The important thing to remember is that the specific individual's ability to hold the tension within by sitting in it changes the perception of personal suffering and this is the greater wisdom.

This is the revelation Jung alludes to in the above quote. During archetypal events like the Pandemic, we need the knowledge to stay safe and the greater wisdom to renew ourselves and our world.

Nancy A. Harding, MAHS-LPC

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